Manchin proposes changes to Dems’ voting bill
Washington — Sen. Joe Manchin is proposing an extensive list of changes to his party’s sweeping elections and voting bill, raising hopes among Democrats that they could unite behind the legislation even if the measure is nearly certain to be blocked by Republicans in a showdown Senate vote next week.
Manchin, a West Virginia moderate, said he’s now open to supporting a bill if it’s revised, despite declaring earlier this month that the measure was the “wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together.”
He released a proposed list of changes ahead of a meeting of Senate Democrats Thursday to discuss the path forward. That meeting was called by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is vowing to hold a vote on the bill in June no matter what, saying “we have to get it done.”
“People were assuming that I was against (the bill) because there were no Republicans supporting it. It’s not the case at all,” Manchin told reporters at the Capitol.
As written, the Democrats’ bill would bring about the largest overhaul of U.S. voting in a generation, touching nearly every aspect of the electoral process. It would remove hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security, like voter ID laws, while curtailing the influence of big money in politics. It would create a nonpartisan process for redrawing congressional districts, expand mail voting and early voting, restore the rights of felons to cast a ballot, and scores of other provisions.
Manchin’s revisions would curtail, rewrite or eliminate many aspects of the bill. He favors a national voter ID requirement where voters could show a utility bill or another identifying document to vote, while Democrats have sought to blunt the the impact of strict state voter ID laws. His proposal leaves out the creation of a public financing system for congressional campaigns and would allow for greater limits on mail voting.
He has also called for changes to a section on the bill that would create nonpartisan commissions to redraw congressional maps. Manchin, instead, has proposed the use of computer models to prevent partisan gerrymandering.
Yet his list would also leave sizable portions intact or with limited changes, including automatic voter registration, making Election Day a holiday and mandating 15 days of early voting.
“A good voting bill basically protects the voters, protects the states and states rights,” Manchin said.